Prepare to seriously think twice about having a fish pedicure on your next holiday.

To many of us, fish pedicures are that weird beauty treatment we tried once on a tropical holiday but probably won’t again, or a curious thing we’ve heard of and are pretty grossed out by.

But for one (very unfortunate) US woman, a fish pedicure will always be remembered as the treatment that caused her toenails to fall off.

That’s right. Fall off.

A report in the journal of JAMA Dermatology referenced a case study of a 20-something who went to her GP complaining of her toenails dislodging inexplicably over the course of several months. Her nails started to pull away from the nailbed on several of her toes not too long after she went to a fish spa, where dozens of tiny Garra rufa, or “doctor fish”, ate away at the dead skin on her feet.

After ruling out everything else, such as medical problems or injury, the doctor concluded that the woman’s onychomadesis (the medical term for nail shedding) could only be caused by the fish pedicure.

We test out some beauty treatments and products that won’t leave you toenail-less. Post continues. 

The report’s author, Shari Lipner, said she couldn’t explain exactly how the fish spa caused the horrific results, but suspected the biting had damaged the nailbed enough that it halted the production of new nails.

And if that wasn’t enough to put you off every undergoing the exotic treatment again, Lipner detailed another way a fish spa could damage your feet.

“Tubs and fish cannot be adequately sanitised between people, and the same fish are typically reused for successive persons,” she pointed out.

“Thus, there are concerns of transmitting infections between people undergoing these pedicures.”

And it’s not just hypothetical worry either.

Lipner added: “In fact, several bacteria capable of causing disease in humans were isolated from batches of Garra rufa and waters from 24 fish spas.”

That is why the treatment has been banned in at least 10 US states and parts of Europe, she said.

Well, that’s certainly enough information for us. We’ll just stick to a regular old pedicure, thank you very much.

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